Content Marketing Is Dead: 2016 Is All About Storytelling

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Gone are the days of stringing keywords together in a 500 word article and achieving results. Content marketing has changed, and the experts say it is all about the story. You must rethink the way you craft your content. Establish and illustrate your company’s values and worldview while delivering value to your readers. This will help them form a positive association of you as an authority. Being seen as an authority helps create a loyal customer base who will purchase or consume your content. Here are a few simple ways you can modify your current content marketing plan to tell a story to your customers. You are guiding them along on a journey with you.

Clickbait Is Out, Value Is In

Companies must rethink the type of readers or customers they are trying to attract. Do you want to build the kind of site that people come back to again and again for your wisdom on a topic? The kind of site they share with their friends and colleagues? You want to be seen as an information hub in 2016. You can only do that by dissecting who your ideal customer is. Analyze what content they are already consuming, and solve problems for them in a way your competitors are not.

This infographic from SumoMe was created for content curators. It applies to original content just as well.

content-creation-stagesContent creation consists of awareness, refinement and distribution

Value is what gives your readers a positive association with you. It builds trust and interest. Because of this, it is well worth the time it takes to research what they are already reading. Test out some ideas with A/B format testing. Pay attention to how those tests perform. Use more of what performs well. Use less of what does not. You want longer posts with more information that are entertaining and make complicated concepts simple for your readers to understand. Visual images are helpful in bringing your readers value. They are easy to digest and easy to share, as well as being attention catching. Infographics are a great way to boost value. Infographics also create the potential for high quality, genuine backlinking opportunities with authority websites.

Want to read more about strategies to figure out what your readers want? Check out this great article from SumoMe with proven strategies to discover what your audience wants.

Interact With and Learn From Your Audience

Ideally, your content is creating a community of people who feel positively about you and want to purchase your exclusive content or product. You want to grow brand loyalists. Some of those types of people are in your community already! Source them for content ideas by interacting on social media or sending a quick poll out to your email list. You can suggest three topics for your next post, and ask for their input. They’ll appreciate that you are including them in the decision making process. People love to talk about themselves. When you ask people for their ideas, it makes them feel valued by you and more connected to you.

polls-on-facebook
You can use fbpoll.co for creating engaging, short polls for your Facebook

Your customer interaction should be like a handshake, where both sides feel equally appreciated. Social media makes it easy to source your readers for their needs. It’s as easy as creating an online poll for them to vote on! If you can get more email addresses in the process, from people who aren’t already subscribed to you, that’s even better.

I’ve mentioned infographics as a great way to engage your readers and prompt them to share your content. Memes are another fun way to get a conversation started. Memes are entertaining and easy to share on social media. Remember that your readers share things that reinforce their worldview or the way they want their peers to see them. Create something that your readers can relate to. This will increase the likelihood that they will share it.

piktochart-posterAccording to Picktochart, colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read content by 80% 

A Journey and a Story

modcloth-storytellingModCloth has used storytelling to showcase their clothes, but also about friendship and adventure

Stories are more real for readers, even if they are told in images or video. Your readers like to know more about you and how you think about the world. The way you tell a story can deliver that kind of information to them. This is where keywords can really kill you. You want just enough keywords to signify that your page is on topic. Add other related words and phrases that relate to the topic but are not keywords. Don’t overstuff your keywords and kill your content!

Some amazing examples of storytelling in business can be seen in this article from GlobalCopyWriting.com, which explains why storytelling is so essential for content marketing. It provides some quick case studies and a lot of theory behind why this works.

Search terms are also becoming more conversational, thanks, in part, to voice automated assistants like Apple’s Siri. As more people speak their search commands to Siri and her Android equivalent, the more long tail keywords will sound like conversation. You can set up your content for the future by doing a little bit of both with your content.

When you start to craft your posts, think like a journalist to find what the real interest in your subject is. What do you have to say about the topic that is meaningful and different than the similar content out there? How does that relate to your company or brand’s mission and values? How can you talk about that like it is a journey, appreciating little insights along the way? This is essential to your success in the current content wave.

The values of your brand should weave through your content like a continuous fiber, always reaffirming to your readers what you or your company is about. Everything that makes you unique should be reinforced in some way within your content. This includes emails and other customer content- be sure to act and speak in accordance with your values! All of this together tells readers your story.

Authenticity is another core of storytelling for branding success. Don’t be inauthentic, your readers will know! Act in the same way you conduct yourself when you write your content. Readers will never have to wonder who you really are. This helps build trust in you as someone who can be counted on. This perception extends to the way your audience feels about your products or services.

Giveaways Can Growth Hack and Build Value

There is so much talk about growth hacking that sometimes the audience gets left out of this equation. You can take a hint from the growth hackers while still offering something tangible to your readers. A great way to do this is to offer giveaways! Social media is a perfect spot for this. You can encourage people to post photos using your product or that relate to one of your posts. Develop a hashtag for them to use along with it. Ask them to tag your Facebook or Twitter presence in the share. You gain maximum exposure for this! If you lead people to your website and require their email to sign up for the contest, you’ll grow your email list in a big way. Take a look at this example from Regal Cinemas.

regal-cinema-giveawayRegal Cinemas gave away Swiss Army Man movie prize pack. The users just had to follow their page and retweet

The thing you give to the winner can be a product or service that you offer. It could be something totally unrelated to your core topic. For instance, everyone loves electronics. Electronic giveaways work for everyone. If you blog about business, you could offer some free templates to keep people organized. Organizational products for an office space also line up with your topic. Don’t underestimate the power of this tool. You’re still reinforcing your branding by showing customers that you understand them. You are thanking them for their support.

Giving On a Budget

You can feel great about your giveaways if you buy the prize at a discount. Discount coupon websites can be a great way to save more. Searching for retailers that sell products you’re considering in your contest on coupon sites like Frugaa.com only increases the money that gets to stay in your business. It’s a win/win- good for your audience (free stuff!) and good for you (cheaper stuff!). Consider making purchases on a business line of credit that earns you points or cash back. This also helps you save more, and you can write off your giveaways at tax time.

frugaa-coupon-siteYou can find coupons and best deals from thousands of online stores at Frugaa

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve noticed a strong trend through all of these points: your story is about who you are and what you have to offer your audience. You want to be real with people, seem accessible and down to earth, and be extremely transparent and trustworthy. If it feels like spam, skip it, and spend time coming up with something better!


Photo Credit: Visual Hunt

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